All the hard work and planning was complete, the date had finally arrived, and on April 23 we headed off on Retreat 2015.

The Retreat signifies the end of another incredible year and the start of a new and exciting one. There are two things which are a given each year; the Retreat will be the most anticipated night in the Rockpool calendar and it will be kept a secret...at all costs.

Each year is different. We want it to be a huge thanks for all the effort that everyone has put in. In the past few years we have hosted a black tie event in a former prison, partied on a country estate, shot across the Solent on high speed ribs and this year was bigger and better: Rockpool Fest! Two nights of music, hot tubs, high ropes and merriment and camping….

Nothing phases the Rockpool team, they relish every opportunity so we put that to the test this year by going back to basics.  It was more glamping than camping at The Dome Garden staying in their luxury domes. The domes ranged from 2 man hobbity domes to 8 man superdomes with suspended beds; all the domes had en-suites with wood fired showers or baths and all beds were made up with luxury linen. The domes were all heated by their own log burner which certainly tested our inner Bear Grylls spirit if we wanted to stay warm at night and avoid the early morning cold shower!

 

Three things guarantee a successful Retreat; food, drink and a healthy dose of competition. This year we, once again, had all three in abundance! At 5:30pm we downed tools and boarded the fun bus for our magical mystery tour. After a rowdy bus ride and a toast to start the Retreat around the campfire everyone was let loose to track down their beds and roommates. The surprises didn’t stop at the personalised gifts everyone received before hitting the road, we’d packed the site full of them. There were hampers full of treats in every dome, wood fired hot tubs, a huge cinema screen for the night’s entertainment and of course a packed beer fridge!

If the fires tested our survival skills then Thursday night’s dinner tested our Neopolitan spirit, with pizza making.  We stretched, kneaded and topped our own pizzas before cooking them in the wood fired pizza oven. This was achieved with varying success; we had deep pan, (very) thin crust, some had air vents and some even doubled up on their dough allowance but everyone managed to get a meal, just. We then relaxed in the hot tubs and watched a film on the huge cinema screen.  Some of the team even managed to go to bed at some point.

After a very late night and a welcome hearty breakfast it was time to get down to business. The Senior Leadership Team had to keep the attention of some very tired and weary heads with the only bit of business for the weekend, our company presentation. We had 2014/15 targets to review, an innovative proposition to embrace, a new office to induct and annual awards to give. I’m not sure how we crammed it all in to two hours but we managed it, after a quick lunch to refuel we headed off to Adventure Ropes for some high ropes fun and games.

 

Splitting into three teams the competition was on, we had three equally challenging and nerve wracking activities in store which most definitely weren’t for the vertigo suffers amongst us. The wobbly pole brought us closer than we ever imagined to our colleagues, the leap of faith was a true personal challenge which involved leaping from a tree platform to a trapeze swing and huge kudos to Andrew for overcoming his vertigo and nailing it. The crate stacking challenge was where it all got real, after varying tactics, false starts and second attempts we had a tie at 14 crates for two of the teams.

After all the excitement of the afternoon it was time to don our best festival clobber, get glittered to the max courtesy of our resident glitterati and prepare for a night to remember!! We feasted on the Best Beef Ever which certainly lived up to its name, the cocktail barman was in full swing and the band had arrived to entertain us for the evening. Who needs Glastonbury when you’ve got Rockpool Fest 2015?

As some doubly tired and weary bodies appeared on Saturday morning they were fuelled for the journey home with another fantastic breakfast. That was it for another year but the memories, photos and the glitter will be around for a long time to come.

I can’t wait for 2016, who knows where we’ll be headed...well me, but I’m not saying a word.

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